COTS vs. Custom Manufacturing Execution System (MES)
Many manufacturers are recognizing their legacy manufacturing execution systems (MES) no longer serve business or IT needs, so they’re left with a critical choice – to upgrade or to replace their MES.
As a systems integrator and expert in the MES domain, Flexware Innovation helps its clients answer evaluate their options and make this important decision. Deciding to make changes to your legacy system is not always a black or white answer. While cost and risk of upgrading or replacing the mission-critical plant information system is large, the cost and risk of doing nothing is high as well.
If you’re leaning towards making a change to your Manufacturing Execution System (MES), here are some tips to consider:
1. What’s the best MES solution for you – COTS (Commercial-off-the-Shelf) vs. Custom?
COTS – A COTS solution may make sense if you have very common processes and a modern ERP. Depending on your industry, a COTS MES solution can bring best practices and a level of compliance that is difficult to achieve with custom solutions. The ability to propagate or “roll out” a COTS solution may also be a strong advantage to consider. Check out our COT partners.
Custom – If you have a legacy MES, MOM, or Data Collection system, especially a custom-built solution, you are probably used to the specific functionality that system provides. In other words, you built the system to accommodate your processes, not the other way around. Consider upgrading to modern software and database technology while leveraging that code-base and functionality. A strong consideration of a custom solution is the lifetime cost of the solution due to the reduced costs of software licenses and maintenance costs.
2. What if you’re not ready to replace your entire MES system, but need to make a small change?
Add-on Functionality – If your system is compliant and working fine for your operations, but lacks real-time analytics and visibility, consider adding Business Intelligence functionality to give your continuous improvement teams more actionable data.
Finally, if you’re not happy with your current MES system, then consider doing more research and/or hiring an internal or external “steward” to help you weigh the pros and cons of making a change. MES solutions can be complex, but by hiring an internal or external “steward” to research solutions, companies can minimize risks. The stewards defined should have deep process knowledge, understand the history of the solution, and be ready and able to move the solution forward as business needs change.
To learn about the five most common risks manufacturers face when deciding if it’s the right time to replace or enhance their legacy system, download our eBook 5 Risks of Sticking with a Legacy MES.